Commentaries posted do not necessarily represent the opinion of LDN.
 Any opinions expressed are those of the writers.

Presidential doctrine

By Jim Killebrew

Send a link to a friend 

[January 25, 2014]  By now we have experienced almost five years of the president's foreign policy. We listened to the debates during the re-election process in 2012 between the president and his challenger. The United States is a world power; the foreign policy of this country is felt around the world. Additionally, the way we implement foreign policy goes a long way toward keeping us safe.

In 1823 when the country was still healing from the wounds of the Revolutionary War that resulted in the breaking away from the tyranny of Great Britain, President James Monroe created what has been called the "Monroe Doctrine." Simply stated, President Monroe said in his seventh State of the Union address that the United States would no longer allow European colonies to continue with the practice of colonizing in America. Nor would any further European influences be allowed to interfere with various states in the United States.

In 1904 President Theodore Roosevelt used the Monroe Doctrine to define the natural consequence of that doctrine to extend it to include Latin America. From the premise of his statement "Walk softly, but carry a big stick," Roosevelt said: "If a nation shows that it knows how to act with reasonable efficiency and decency in social and political matters, ... it need fear no interference from the United States." He further added: "Chronic wrongdoing ... in the Western Hemisphere ... may force the United States ... to the exercise of an international police power."

Obviously, President Kennedy used elements of the Monroe Doctrine and the "Roosevelt Doctrine" to establish a blockade against the former Soviet Union from establishing nuclear weapons in Cuba.

With the growth of communism after World War II and during the Korean War, in 1947 President Harry Truman initiated the "Truman Doctrine" in his promise to help countries with economic stability, equipment and even military force for those who were threatened by the spread of communism. If the country's citizens were resisting the attempts of subjugation by communist pressure, the Truman Doctrine established the containment policy to keep communism out of free countries.

In 1980 President Carter saw attempts by the Soviet Union to consolidate strategic positions in the Middle East to capture the world oil market. Because of the "vital interest of the United States" in the Persian Gulf region, President Carter vowed to use military force if necessary to protect American economic and national interests in the Persian Gulf. Being a strong ally with Israel, it was President Carter's efforts that brought about the alliance between Egypt and Israel through the Camp David peace talks.

From the 1980s until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the "Reagan Doctrine" that was created by President Ronald Reagan moved from simple containment of communism to actually providing military and financial support to guerilla forces to actually fight the threat of communist takeover of a government. President Reagan believed in a strong national defense by ensuring a strong military, and he thought weaknesses perceived by enemies were motivation for them to be emboldened to attack the United States.

President George W. Bush developed a "doctrine" as a result of the events on Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists slammed commercial jetliners into the twin towers, Pentagon and the field in Pennsylvania. The heart of his doctrine consisted of his belief that those countries who harbored terrorists and trained in terrorism to attack others around the world should be treated as actual terrorists themselves. This added the component of "prevention" to the doctrines that have survived past presidential administrations. The "Bush Doctrine" consists of a series of policies meant to keep American citizens safe from terrorists.

Now, with the advent of the current president's first inauguration, a new "doctrine" was implemented. It began with announcements to the enemies against whom we were waging war being told of the future date of withdrawal of American forces so the enemy could prepare their own combatants during their wait for the Americans to leave. It then moved on to a world apology tour where the president went around the world apologizing for America to those who sought to destroy America. To put the exclamation point on the new "Obama Doctrine," the president punctuated his meetings with Middle Eastern leaders with a waist-deep bow. Not to be misunderstood by the leaders harboring those training in terrorist camps, the president began to move away from the only democracy in the Middle East: Israel.

[to top of second column]

With the new "Obama Doctrine" firmly in place, the Iranians now had almost four more years of advancement in building nuclear weapons and delivery systems of those weapons. The "Arab Spring" resulted in a destabilization of the region, with Muslim Brotherhood leaders in Egypt and thousands of civilian citizens killed in Syria. The relationship between Russia and the United States sunk to, and continues at, a low ebb while the Russian president waited for the U.S. president to be re-elected so he could "have more flexibility" to work with the Russian government. This new presidential doctrine represented a new chapter in presidential doctrines. Take a look at one outcome with the new doctrine:

In my lifetime, especially when mass media came to the fore with television, if any attack on an American consulate or embassy occurred that resulted in American lives being lost, it would have been the top discussion in the administration and Congress. There would have been "measured" responses applied to responsible groups and a concerted voice of condemnation of the act. Instead, with the terrorist attack in Libya resulting in a murdered ambassador and three other Americans, it was initially covered by the administration by having the blame placed squarely on some short video aired on YouTube that began playing back in the previous July. The result of that "doctrine" only seemed to embolden others in the area to raise up riots against 22 other consulates and embassies in the region.

At the time of the attack, the president, instead of rushing back to the White House and meeting with his national security team to discuss options and draw the curtain of protection around the other embassies and consulates in Northern Africa and the Middle East, flew off to Las Vegas for a fundraiser. Some of his subsequent discussion was presented to the American people via a late-night talk show and a discussion group on the daytime television program "The View." Even a month later, the administration and the State Department seemed to be at odds in statements about the entire incident. Although, in 2014 we learned that top Pentagon brass and the secretary of defense learned of the attack and told the president within the hour what was happening.

If this is a strategy the administration is using to demonstrate to the rest of the world that America is changing its foreign policy from a position of strength with immediate consequences for terrorist attacks to a position of tolerance and quiet, apologetic humility resulting in covering up the attack with diversion, and apologizing for America's actions, it seems to be working. Not to America's advantage, but the emboldened positions of the radicals who are watching.

Of course we now have sufficient proof this new doctrine established by the president has created difficulty in America's foreign policy. Without running through the exhaustive list, let just a few reminders suffice. Aside from the attack on the Benghazi consulate that has never been fully investigated by the administration beyond their apparent attempts to cover it up, there are other issues. The Arab Spring turned to Arab Winter. Of course who could forget the presidential debacle of off again, on again and then off again for the raid on Syria that ended with the president having to be pulled from total disgrace by the Russian president.

In summary, the past five years of the president's doctrine with foreign policy have weakened the relationship between Israel and the United States, and it couldn't be more frosty; the Middle East in general is in shambles; al-Qaida is being re-established in Iraq with no American contingency remaining to provide presence for an ally; Egypt continues the process of breakdown; Iran has successfully shed the economic sanctions and brags about it; Russia and her president have gained powerful diplomatic prestige around the world; the friends to the north, Canada, are soon to turn to China to sell their oil, having been driven away from the United States through the president's total disregard for energy independence in favor of his embargo on energy. These are just some of the consequences of the president's new doctrine.

Looking at other presidents from history and the doctrines they formed, is there anyone who believes the current presidential doctrine has its anchor in American exceptionalism?


Click here to respond to the editor about this article.

< Recent commentaries

Back to top